The U.S. Coast Guard commandant has announced he will disregard President Donald Trump’s ban on transgenders in the military.
Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, who took charge of the Coast Guard under former President Barack Obama, says he “will not break faith” with transgenders under his command.
“The first thing we did is we reached out to all 13 members of the Coast Guard who have come out” as transgender, Zukunft said at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, reports the Hill.
In his comments, Zukunft referred to the Coast Guard’s first openly transitioning officer, Lt. Taylor Miller, who was featured in a Washington Post article about the effects of the ban on transgender members of the service.
“I feel very unwanted,” Miller reportedly said. “Mortified and embarrassed.”
“Most people my age are worried whether they’re going to get a date or what apartment they’re going to rent,” Miller, an engineer who inspects foreign and domestic commercial vessels, said, according to the Post. “I’m worried about how I’m going to cover the cost of my hormones, hide from everybody and not get beaten up and murdered in an alleyway.”
Miller reportedly began transitioning in 2016 after Obama-era Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all branches of the military to create policies to allow for transgender service members and special medical care access for them.
“If you read that story, Taylor’s family has disowned her. … And I told Taylor, I will not turn my back,” Zukunft said. “We have made an investment in you and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard and I will not break faith.”
“And so that was the commitment to our people right now,” the commandant added. “Very small numbers, but all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today.”
Trump announced via Twitter on July 26 that he will no longer allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military.
In a series of tweets, the president said:
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical cost and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.
The White House has reportedly reached out to the Pentagon to begin a draft of formal guidance on the transgender ban, Breitbart News reported Monday.
“We have conversations back and forth all the time with the White House in a variety of channels, and those conversations are starting to happen on the issue,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said.
A letter sent to Trump on July 27 from 16 retired flag-rank officers, including one admiral and seven major generals, thanks the president “for making the extremely courageous decision to reverse President Obama’s transgender social experiment.”
The letter continues:
There may be an enormous amount of vitriol directed at you for making this policy correction, but please know that overturning this policy may have done more in the long-term to save the culture and war-fighting capacity of the U.S. military than perhaps any other military policy you will adopt as president.
The letter’s signers warn of the military’s potential costly outlays for specialized transgender hormone treatments and the limitations such individualized therapies place upon those service members and their units:
DoD guidelines require that those serving in the military be “medically adaptable to the military environment without the necessity of geographic area limitations.” However, both hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery result in the need for specialized medical care which will not be available in all geographic locations.
The Military Times observes the Coast Guard is the only military service under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Department of Defense.